“Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The global health crisis is accelerating meta-trends and hurling civilization towards the cybernetic future. The disruptors are being disrupted, and the rush is on to digitize and virtualize everything in weeks’ time that otherwise would have taken a few years to play out. Recent surveys show that we have compressed five years in business and consumer digital adoption within a few months.
Banks have transitioned to remote banking and making flexible payment arrangements for loans and mortgages. Restaurants and some grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery as their primary mode of operation. Most schools have switched to online learning and digital platforms. Research shows that e-Learning is more conducive to retention of information in less time, implying these changes may be permanent. Doctors have begun delivering telemedicine eyeing more flexible regulation. Manufacturers are actively adjusting supply chains and prepping their factories for automation where it’s possible. Sport fans found new venues of enjoying e-Sports. The bottom line: Digital native life isn’t just coming sometime in the future, it’s here — and here to stay.
Don’t be surprised if many, if not most, downtown office buildings in the major U.S. cities will soon start to convert to hotels and residential properties like condos. We’ll witness the commercial and residential property market permadecline in real inflation-adjusted dollars. The fallout from COVID-19 could change commuting and transportation permanently. Certainly, no one misses commuting an hour or two a day. Telecommuting, even part-time, might become the new normal. In the realm of social habits, face covering fashion creeps into the mainstream and then is going to gradually transform into some seasonal fads.
The coronavirus has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. It will likely make a more substantial economic dent than the Great Recession despite trillions of dollars of economic stimulus pumped into the system. As a society, we have a surprisingly short memory of previous debacles — we barely remember the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed 50 million but this time around we might get a splinter in our collective memory — a pandemic-induced economic recession.
Social unrest accompanied with protests, looting and confederate statues overturning rolled across America in the wake of the brutal police killing of a black man. If racism that spurred a round of riots around the country may seem now as the number one problem in America, income and wealth inequality is a close second. 99% of the population are “wage slaves” at some level. All these are the signs of radical transformation under way. This is a wake-up call to build a fairer, more empathic and egalitarian society.
There is a quiet and not-so-quiet socialist revolution going on right now in America and people take a notice. The Great Reset Initiative launched by the World Economic Forum acknowledges that the old neoliberal order gives way to the new — Democratic Socialism, or whatever name we’ll adopt to the new post-capitalist model — a hybrid socio-economic system where everyone feels economically comfortable, not just 1% of the population. Call it the ‘Hybrid Economy’, if you will. One thing is for certain: We are witnessing the beginning of the end of capitalism as we know it.
Capitalism has served us well up to this point but now it’s becoming clearly suboptimal — the future economics will be too complex to be organized solely on the principle of financial exchange. To see how preposterous capitalism is, going forward, as a thought experiment, imagine being uploaded to the virtual heaven after your physical death only to find yourself in the midst of virtual capitalism being constantly bombarded with ads and other creepy “incentives” — a scenario depicted in a recent sci-fi series Upload.
I would sacrifice a couple of future trillionaires not by killing them but by adequately taxing the mega-rich to eliminate poverty in this country and around the world. It’s politically bankrupt and economically absurd to have more than half a million homeless people in the richest country of the world!
The classic form of capitalism stopped working and this is why we see these deepening crises every time any kind of “black swan” event strikes an outdated but admittedly resilient system. We’ll soon see the emergence of a new economic order — the one which will be based on automation and UBI, AI-powered algorithmic management and “socialistic” elements aimed at satisfying the global civilizational agenda rather than sporadic corporate stakeholders. No one in their right mind can expect that we can continue to increase human population which has grown parabolically over the last 200 years as well as extract natural resources at the ever-increasing rate just to satisfy the capitalist agenda.
During this year of presidential election we all get a bit overpoliticized: The shift to the left is real. With the global pandemonium, we realize just how socio-economically interdependent we are. We realize that we overcompensate those at the top at the expense of general population. We realize that a sequence of inventions and innovations are “encoded” in the civilizational development: If not Elon Musk then another “Musk” would have appeared to manufacture electric cars, if not Jeff Bezos, then another Bezos, if not Mark Zuckerberg, then another “Zuck” would have inescapably showed up in the historical technoscape. Their personal wealth in hundreds of billions of dollars is not justified — where would these centibillionaires be without civilization?
While 1-percenters are playing golf and flying private, the rest of us are destined to work as modern slaves in bullshit drudgery jobs to some degree and thousands live on the street. But this needn’t be the case going forward. Right now, humankind resembles a toddler-superorganism wearing a sock and a shiny sneaker on its right foot while the left bare foot must walk on the dirt. The absurdity of a purely capitalist system will only become more and more self-evident with each and every passing year.
Around the globe, countries such as Finland and Spain introduce their respective countrywide measures equivalent to UBI. The Federal Reserve was quick to react and we’ll likely see a rare inflationary recession which is way better than deflationary depression. At this point, I would bet my money on some kind of W-shaped recovery in this country and in the world, jumping through the volatility hoops of late-stage capitalism and the Fed-sanctioned speculation in the financial markets.
We also see new geopolitics emerging with what some call ‘New Cold War’ which could ultimately boil down to the competing hybrid governance models aimed at optimally managing human capital. Western countries like the U.S. struggle to manage the pandemic compared to China while Beijing seizes a geopolitical opportunity. This draws on a geopolitical trend that was already in place before the global pandemic: the continued rise of China.
As a result of blatant xenophobia, in particular the latest rounds of russophobia, and short-sighted economic sanctions, the West lost Russia as an ally to China, at least for the time being. If this russophobic shameless propaganda continues, the post-pandemic West-East polarization will only deepen. We may agree that myopic stance against Russia will most likely make the country lean towards cooperation with China for years to come. But then again, folks, keep in mind that this is just a geopolitical theater. Entrepreneurs, researchers and socialites are much better adept and motivated to cooperate on a global scale than politicians who thrive on polarization. Philosophically, this West-East polarization confirms a notion I’m particularly fond of — ‘Digital Ontology’, a binary play of scales.
Speaking as an evolutionary cyberneticist and philosopher of mind, I would say that our planet and our entire lives are a virtual construct of our own minds and the mind at large. If we were to decode the COVID-19 message coming from the transcendent realm, I would approximate it as: “The next phase of human evolution is clearly in the cards now: Consuming cultivated meat and being open to the connectivity explosion with immersive virtual worlds not for escapism but for expansion of the human creative imagination should become a conscientious choice for billions. The ‘Cradle Age’ is almost over.” Imagine how unbearable the lockdown would have been without all our incredible communication technologies. Now we even have VR and the Metaverse is just around the corner!
The Metaverse can be defined as a shared virtual space, including all immersive virtual worlds, augmented reality and the Internet. Long before the coronavirus crisis began, there were already more than three billion people playing video games and engaging in virtual platforms. Simulated worlds brought players from different countries and cultures together into one place, allowing them to form and forge deep social connections through their adventures in online gaming. With the enforced lockdown and remote working, online schooling and digital socializing, we could be closer than ever to moving from a relatively marginal use to more significant levels of adoption of the shared virtual space.
With advanced quantum computational systems in place, we could have computed the COVID-19 vaccine within hours, if not minutes, of its discovery. Perhaps, any kind of life-threatening virus, since it is nothing more than a piece of code, will be completely preventable with advances in quantum computing, bioinformatics and computational biology. The question is, then, if we could eventually shield ourselves against the common viral micro-threat, what would a macro-threat of unknown nature mean for human-machine civilization? We might soon need to decode another message from the transcendent realm edging us ever closer to the Cybernetic Singularity of some sort.
While certain futurists are now attempting to cast their predictions on the post-pandemic, new world order, the most plausible scenario of civilizational development has already been outlined in my magnum opus The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind’s Evolution, towards which the novel COVID-19 pandemic only unexpectedly accelerated us.
In the post-pandemic world, many of our social habits will spring back into place but something like half as many tables in restaurants and plexiglass in the stores will continue to remind us of the past crisis. A new “baby boom” will also mark the next calendar year for obvious reasons. As Miles Cameron once said: “All the best romances bloom in the midst of a good siege.”
We’ll remember this time of tremendous change when we all looked like masked robbers and hijackers, the time of accelerated digital transformation and virtualization, geopolitical polarity, transpired meta-trends such as having more leisure and working less, undercurrents ultimately leading towards the World government in spite of now-dreaded deglobalization. We should keep in mind that we’re just one human species stuck to the surface of one small rock floating in space we call home. By mid-century, we’ll live in a virtually and economically borderless world just like medieval city walls once fell and feudalism was no more…
P.S. This article is adapted from my newly-released book TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man, The Cybernetic Theory of Mind series
Tags: economic singularity, capitalism, economic system, economic model, suboptimal economics, Great Reset, Post-Pandemic World, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, global health crisis, meta-trends, transhuman future, digital adoption, online learning, digital platforms, e-Learning, telemedicine, e-Sports, COVID-19, telecommuting, new normal, face covering, coronavirus, Great Recession, Spanish flu, wage slaves, egalitarian society, socialist revolution, Great Reset initiative, World Economic Forum, Democratic Socialism, post-capitalist model, future economics, Upload, hybrid economy, trillionaires, mega-rich, black swan, UBI, algorithmic management, capitalist agenda, Federal Reserve, inflationary recession, deflationary depression, W-shaped recovery, new geopolitics, New Cold War, socialistic governance, human capital, economic sanctions, West-East polarization, digital ontology, evolutionary cyberneticist, philosopher of mind, transcendent realm, synthetic meat, connectivity explosion, immersive virtual worlds, Cradle Age, Metaverse, remote working, shared virtual space, quantum computing, bioinformatics, computational biology, human-machine civilization, Cybernetic Singularity, The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind’s Evolution, baby boom, Miles Cameron, Cybernetic Era
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a Russian-American futurist, philosopher of mind, evolutionary cyberneticist, essayist, media commentator, painter, author of “The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind’s Evolution,” “The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology,” “The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics,” “The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence,” “Theology of Digital Physics: Phenomenal Consciousness, The Cosmic Self & The Pantheistic Interpretation of Our Holographic Reality,” “NOOGENESIS: Computational Biology,” “TECHNOCULTURE: The Rise of Man.” Self-described neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, transhumanist singularitarian. Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area). More Bio…
Author Website: www.alexvikoulov.com
*Image Credit: Shutterstock
**Original article first appeared on EcstadelicNET (www.ecstadelic.net) in Top Stories section on July 1, 2020